Why Some Children Don’t Work In School (Pt. 10)

Of Youth, Parenting, Teachers, and Education

Where the buck stops in Education

Where the buck stops in Education

Over the years working with youth-workers from many institutions, and educators in many schools, several themes kept coming up.

Listening to the principal of the middle school out in the Caribbean islands talk about educational challenges is remarkable in its resemblance to a chat with the manager of the juvenile offenders program in Belize, Central America, or the Director of an urban high school in Brooklyn, NY.

Where’s the bottleneck?

It’s pretty universal throughout the Western world that schools and professional care-givers can all use some more parental involvement in the education of their students.

Teachers everywhere know that it solves a lot of problems. Care-givers working with troubled youth know they’d be out of a job if all parents involve themselves deeply in the education of their children.

It’s especially true if your school population includes a high percentage of what caregivers call “at-risk” children. Teachers will tell you they will get to see the least of the parents they need to see the most.

Well if motivating more parents to play a bigger role is the answer, why isn’t it happening?  Why isn’t anyone making the investment to get those parents on board?

I wish I could tell you I have the answer to that question.  But I don’t.  Many communities have tried throwing money at the problem for brief periods.  The modest results have been fleeting.  It’s a very complex problem.  No one wants to tackle the complex problems. They don’t know how.

But you have to start somewhere.

A puzzle with many pieces

I’ve a story to tell you about why I decided to make it part of my life’s work.  The story is a work in progress. It started back on 1994 and continued through the day I started this blog.

And the saga continues to this day. You’ll be hearing it soon.  But that’s not what I want to tell you as I wind down this very important series.  I wanted to just give you an idea about how this series fits in the bigger  picture.  I’ll do a long dance when it helps us find out where to start with that vexing problem.

What you have here in this 10-part series, adapted from material by Norman Brier in his work published by Research Press, “Motivating Children and Adolescents for Academic Success, A Parent Involvement Program,” is the inside core of the entire curriculum we need to deliver to a new breed of parents.  But it’s only a small part of the puzzle.

The Life Parent

You see, we need to create training programs around the curriculum.

We need to grow our little community into a full-fledged educational movement. That’s what complex problems take.

We need to change the paradigm and take a whole new look at parenting skills for the digital information age.

We need to find the parents who have already made the shift. Most of them consist of the parents who DO show up in the schools… and I suspect those who read this blog.

Now we need to take the curriculum, and add to it the things we see the new breed of parents doing on a consistent basis. Then we need to enlist their help in getting other parents to make the transition and become a new kind of parent.

Let’s call her “The Life Parent.”

We’ve already articulated the vision for what a Life Parent is. But that is another piece of what you can expect in 2013. Stay tuned.

A few things all “Life Parents” must know

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. For now, even if you are already a Life Parent, just having the core curriculum in this series will help you hone your skills just a little more. Here’s a (very brief) recap of Parts 1 through 9.

  1. Academic motivation describes the level of interest in school-learning. It’s something we must cultivate in our children. Regardless of many other factors, including intelligence, if academic motivation is high, your child will do well in school.
  2. Parents play a crucial role in influencing academic motivation.  In fact, the amount of academic motivation in children is usually a mirror of the attitude of the parent’s towards education.
  3. To increase academic motivation, one thing parents must do is provide emotional support. Parents must expect the best, believe in the importance of education, focus on efforts, and know how to give feedback.
  4. Parents must take the time to inform themselves. They must know how to track and evaluate the progress of their children, and keep their children involved in the process as well.
  5. Parents must set independent learning as the end-goal, then systematically work towards cultivating it in their children.
  6. Parents must play a vital role in helping children learn “how to learn.”  This entails helping them develop work-habits and study skills, using homework from school.
  7. Parents must learn the nuts and bolts of promoting independent learning through scaffolding… appropriate help with homework.
  8. Parents must learn how to give their children the coping skills they need for overcoming difficulties they are sure to encounter at school.
  9. Parents must understand how emotional distress affects academic motivation, and have strategies for correcting the problem when it shows up.

Your Turn

That was the series right there. But now I have a very important favor to ask.

Our vision for the Life Parent must always evolve.  I want that to start from day-1

So what else to you want parents out there to know?  What should they get good at in order to have the world’s children all fulfill their purpose in this new post-modern age?  What’s your pet-peeve about parents?  Just one bullet below in the comment-box will do wonders to help our momentum swing into high gear.

So what are you waiting for?

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  1. Elva Anson says:

    I like your ideas, Rodney. Number 4: parents must keep their children involved is especially important, in my opinion. When I counsel children who are getting failing grades, I always ask them what kind of grades would they like to get. It is very important that they realize that they own their own behavior. Grades are not for parents. They belong to the student.

    • Thank you for commenting, Elva. The points summarized here highlighted the contents of the entire series. When we get parents as partners in helping the children to take responsibility (and pride) in their own behavior, its a beautiful thing isn’t it? I’ve just gotten started putting the entire series into a training course, because you’re right. It IS that important.

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